Entering his fifth year with the Dallas Cowboys and fresh off his first Pro Bowl appearance, Jaylon Smith will be returning to a role similar to what he played during his time at Notre Dame. Smith is making the switch from middle to weak side linebacker under new Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan, and it's a change that should help No. 54 take his game to an entirely different level.
As an All-American and Butkus Award winner (given to the best LB in collegiate football), Jaylon Smith was a versatile chess piece for the Fighting Irish defense. He was equally dominant as a sideline to sideline player, a pass rusher, or dropping into coverage. It's more than likely the same thing Mike Nolan has in mind for him as the Cowboys new WILL LB.
As good as Jaylon Smith has been as the Cowboys MIKE LB the past several seasons, I don't think it's going to be anything like what we see from him as the WILL. I've always believed that this was his more natural position and as such I'm expecting big things from him in 2020. In fact, I think he's going to have his best season yet in Dallas.
Superstardom isn't out of the realm of possibility for Smith this year. His ability to chase down ball carriers from sideline to sideline or cover them in coverage will be an asset to the Cowboys defense. Where he's really going to shine though is as a blitzer, something he's already proven more than capable of as the MIKE.
To date, No. 54 has racked up 7.5 quarterback sacks in his three years as a MIKE LB with the Dallas Cowboys. I wouldn't be surprised if he surpasses or comes close to equaling that number just this season after the position switch. And that's exactly what I believe Mike Nolan has in mind.
I could be completely wrong, but I think Jaylon Smith has a very good chance of being the Dallas Cowboys best defensive player this year. A lot of it has to do with him moving to his more natural position, there's also a lot to say for the talent he has around him. He has never had a front seven like the Cowboys do now and that alone should help him tremendously.
I don't know if you agree or not, but I really think Jaylon Smith is going to have his best season yet with the Dallas Cowboys. Now all he has to do is go out there and prove me right.